Grand Valley State University’s men’s golf team continued to show depth in the Folds of Honor qualifier as the team earned its third first-place finish of the fall season.
As the host and ultimate winner of the qualifier, GVSU has secured a spot in the Folds of Honor Invitational which will take place in the spring of 2023.
The Lakers participated in the NCAA Division I format of the Invitational the previous week where they finished 11th overall and are eager for another chance to compete at the top collegiate level.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said head coach Gary Bissell. “We’ll have national exposure against some big programs next year. Going up against top Division I schools is just a great opportunity to see how we stack up.
GVSU faced a few familiar GLIAC opponents with a mix of other Division II universities. Either way, the Lakers opened up a six-shot (-1) advantage after the end of the first round.
Sophomores Charles DeLong and Drew Coble tied for first place (score of 68, -3), while sophomore Nick Krueger was third (-2) and senior Cooper Bell tied for first place. four for sixth place. (+1).
DeLong continued to lead the charge individually, as he led the team in previous invites this season. The end of the second round saw the team finish with a 15-stroke (-7) advantage over second place.
As DeLong stayed ahead with a nine-stroke advantage, Krueger moved up to second, Coble tied for fourth, and Bell fell two spots to tie for 12th (+5).
Heading into the final round on day two, GVSU’s only mission was to close the wide lead they had built up in the first 36 holes.
The end result was exactly that, as seven Lakers finished in the top 20 and the team earned its third tag team title out of its first four invitations with an 848 (-4) total score.
DeLong continues to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to individual play, but sophomore leadership and a team-first mentality led to many individual successes as DeLong won his second individual title this season and his eighth of his collegiate career.
DeLong finished with a score of 206 (-7) as Krueger secured a definite second place with a score of 209 (-4).
Coble finished fifth shooting a 215 (+2), freshmen Charlie Cooley and Andrew Gwilliams and Bell all tied for 16th (score of 224, +11) and junior Alex Jordan finished tied three for 20th place with a score of 226 (+13).
Additionally, the Lakers saw rookie Murphy Kehoe (+34) and Junior Tanner Moore (+35) finish 50th and tied for 51st, respectively.
With respect to DeLong, Bissell said the team’s success early in the season can be attributed to their ability to go deeper down the depth chart in order to earn a win.
“It starts with Charles,” Bissell said. “We have his great game up front and then it goes down to our fifth, Andrew Gwilliams. We got really good laps from everyone. If you don’t get contributions from everyone, it’s really hard to win. It’s team golf, and we did a good job as a team.
Although it’s the second time this season the Lakers have hosted an invite on their home turf, Bissell felt playing at home wasn’t the deciding factor in GVSU’s victory.
“You always have to execute and hit the right shots,” Bissell said. “No matter how well you know a golf course, if you hit a bad shot, it will always lead to a bad result. Playing such a familiar course allows you to relax, but the execution part has yet to pass.
The Lakers have beaten several teams, including Lee University, the defending Division II golf champions, and Keizer University, the defending NAIA golf champions.
Having the ability to defeat experienced teams such as the ones mentioned not only creates bragging rights, but instills confidence within the team as they seek to bounce back from the disappointment of their previous season in the National Championship, said Bissell said.
“It was a really good field, especially at the top end,” Bissell said. “It was good for us to go and play. Beating Lee (University) was important for us. Anytime you can beat the defending national champions, obviously it’s a good week.
To wrap up the fall season, the Lakers will travel to Dearborn, Michigan to participate in the two-day Motor City Invitational starting Sunday, October 9-10.